15 of the Most Fabulous Fountains Around the World
Anyone who’s ever visited Rome, Paris, or just about any other ancient city knows that if you tried to fill each fountain in town, you’d end up a beggar. On your next trip abroad, these amazing feats of aqua-tecture are worth tossing a few pennies into.
Fontana di Trevi, Rome, Italy
One of the most famous fountains in the world, the Trevi was completed in 1762 and is the largest baroque fountain in the Eternal City. Legend has it that if you toss a coin into the fountain, you will someday return to Rome; about 3,000 euro are collected from the basin each day.
King Fahd’s Fountain, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
This saltwater-fed fountain, which can be seen throughout the entire city of Jeddah, is the highest fountain in the world, spraying water up to 312 meters in the air.
Mercury Fountain, Barcelona, Spain
In 1937, artist Alexander Calder displayed this fountain in Paris for that year’s World Exhibition. A tribute to the mercury miners of Almadén, Spain, the liquid running through the fountain is mercury, not water. Eventually moved to the Fundació Joan Miró in Barcelona, the fountain is now displayed behind glass to protect viewers from its harmful fumes.
Friendship of the Peoples Fountain, Moscow, Russia
Like all fountains in Moscow, this fountain operates only during the warm season, from approximately May 1 to October 1. Its defining feature is a ring of sixteen gilded maidens in traditional folk dress, built in 1954 to represent the sixteen Soviet republics.
Fontana dell’Ovato, Tivoli, Italy
This magnificent fountain is in the gardens of the Villa d’Este, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for exquisite Renaissance architecture. One of five hundred fountains, water features, and grottoes on the site, the Ovato, also called the Tiburtine Fountain, is meant to symbolize the convergence of the three rivers of Tivoli.
Samson Fountain at Peterhof Palace, St. Petersburg, Russia
On the grounds of the palace dubbed the “Russian Versailles,” the Samson Fountain depicts the biblical hero fighting a lion, meant to represent Russia’s victory over Sweden in the Great Northern War of 1721. Like all the fountains at Peterhof, the Samson Fountain runs entirely on natural springs, without the use of man-made pumps.
Bethesda Fountain, New York, New York
Some claim that if you sit at this fountain long enough, you’ll see the entire city pass by. Located in Central Park, the famous Bethesda Fountain is a city landmark. It was designed in 1868 by Emma Stebbins, the first woman to receive a city commission for public art in New York City.
Fountain of Wealth, Singapore
Listed in Guinness World Records as the largest fountain in the world, the Fountain of Wealth is located in Suntec City, one of Singapore’s largest shopping malls. The motion of the water flows inward, a feng shui principle meant to bring wealth to the area.
Dubai Fountain, United Arab Emirates
The largest musical fountain in the world is located on the man-made Burj Khalifa lake in downtown Dubai, with 6,600 lights and twenty-five projectors to perform water shows set to traditional Emirati songs, as well as classical and world music.
Swarovski Kristallwelten, Wattens, Austria
The famous crystal company runs a “theme park” at the site of its original glass-cutting factory in Wattens, Austria. Camouflaging the entrance is a giant head carved out of the hillside, with a fountain emerging from the mouth. The Crystal Worlds attraction includes art exhibits about and containing Swarovski crystals, and a Swarovski retail store, of course.
Tap Fountain, Ypres, Belgium
There are actually several “magic” tap fountains stationed around the world, each seeming to defy physics and gravity. The secret is a pipe that runs up the stream of water, delivering water and holding up the tap.
La Joute, Montreal, Canada
This fountain is actually a piece of kinetic art; it uses kinetic energy to power misting and watering sequences in a thirty-two-minute cycle. Natural-gas injectors spew flames out of the water in various parts of the fountain’s show. Designed in 1969 by artist Jean-Paul Riopelle, La Joute (French for “the joust”) surrounds an abstract collection of bronze sculptures.
Moonlight Rainbow Fountain, Seoul, South Korea
With more than ten thousand nozzles spewing out 190 tons of water per minute, this fountain, integrated into Seoul’s Banpo Bridge, is the world’s longest bridge fountain, at 1,140 meters. Since its installation in September 2009, the fountain, which pumps water from the Han River and adds light effects, is as environmentally friendly as it is beautiful.
Crown Fountain, Chicago, Illinois
Located in Millennium Park, this fountain/sculpture/video project endowed by the wealthy Crown family features two glass brick towers with a granite reflecting pool in between them. LEDs project digital videos of faces onto the inward-facing sides of the towers, and a nozzle spouts water over them. The fountain has become a significant part of Chicago pop culture, and many visitors come in hopes of seeing their own face on one of the towers.
Bassin de Latone, Palace de Versailles, France
Located on the grounds of the opulent palace built by French king Louis XIII, this famous fountain is one of countless water features and gardens on the premises. The sculpture, completed in 1670, depicts a scene from Ovid’s Metamorphoses—in which Latona and her children, Apollo and Diana, beseech Zeus for help when local villagers deny them water from the pond, and Zeus responds by turning the villagers to frogs. The fountain was commissioned by Louis XIV, who fancied Apollo to be his alter ego.